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January 28, 2013, Bedford, NY
by Jonathan Winter
After using Quicken software for 10+ years, I thought it would be worth a few hundred words to describe its multifaceted capabilities to our loyal readers. I call this article “Quicken, Unleashed” because I discuss the most powerful, and surprisingly simple, uses of Quicken.
Warning to Citibank Customers using Quicken
Before we begin, let me highlight an obvious glitch for one group of users. Citibank checking account owners. If you have a Citibank checking account this software is not for you. The reason is as follows: For some reason, Citibank does not link correctly to Quicken. This is unfortunate, given the large number of Citibank customers in this country, but it is what it is. By the way, if you are reading this and you have a war story, or even better have a solution, please post a comment below.
Quicken, Unleashed! addresses three simple, and powerful, functions of Quicken.
1) Quicken Budgets;
2) Quicken Debt Reduction Planner;
3) Quicken Lifetime Planner . . .
Quicken Budgets . . .
. . . downloads your checking and credit card data automatically into the program, and then categorizes it into “spending buckets.” Each spending bucket is then measured against a predetermined spending limit, as the charges are being booked into your checking account. Take fuel. If for example, you find that you are consistently going over budget on your automobile fuel usage, a decision might make be to start to use the “add waypoint” function on your navigation system and consolidate your five one way trips a day into one giant loop with five stops. While each persons individual situation is different, by categorizing your spending you will be able to “think clearly” about how you spend your money and how to maximize your savings.
Time to complete: less than ten minutes
Quicken Debt Reduction Planner . . .
. . . will link your credit card debt, home mortgage and home equity accounts and their corresponding interest rates to help you pay off the most expensive debt first. Quicken Debt Reduction Planner allows you to direct excess funds in the most appropriate fashion, with debt reducing slowly at first then progressively faster as the high interest rate debt cards get paid down. What I like most about this is that it allows you to try on different what if scenarios. What if, for example you had a one time upfront payment from a tax return and kept the monthly payments the same. You will see two debt pay down graphs, one assuming the minimum payment and one with the minimum payment AND an upfront payment. You can also see what happens if you increase your payment above the minimum. You will also see how much you will save compared to the “base” by adjusting payment size and one time payment amount. Fantastic . . .
Time to complete: two or three minutes
Quicken Lifetime Planner . . .
. . . will allow you to plan for life’s big events: college, weddings, retirement, home purchases, its all there. Quicken lifetime planner will allow you to “back fit” what you need to do today, in order to achieve your financial goals of tomorrow. Quicken Lifetime Planner asks questions about you such as: your income, your tax rate now and in the future (don’t worry, Quicken does this for you), inflation assumptions (Quicken does this too), savings and investment assumptions, home and assets, loans and debt, etc. Once complete, you will have a nice plan to pay for the next sports car, or even the retirement villa on the beach in the South of France!
Time to complete: about 30 minutes
Which Quicken Software to Buy
In true Quicken style, the company does not want you to overpay so they make not one but three versions of Quicken. Each of them can do what is described above. The difference comes down to two fundamental questions: 1) Do you want Quicken to help you manage your investments and 2) Do you want Quicken to help you manage your small business.
– If the answer is no to either then you want Quicken Deluxe 2013 – $49.95
– If you want Quicken to help you manage your investments then you need Quicken Premier 2013 – $69.95
– If you want Quicken to help you manage your small business then you need Quicken Home & Business 2013 – 96.87
Whatever version you choose, Quicken will help you simplify your life, so you can spend time on other endeavors.
Until next time